We plan to attend a sunrise service this Easter Sunday at Red Rocks in Colorado, along with thousands of other worshippers. 14,000 people attended the last service.
Organizers recommend arriving no later than 5 am. I am not a morning person. Do we find a hotel to stay in nearby or do we make the hour and a half drive from Breckenridge that morning? I think the former—although, if half the people attending have the same idea, we’ll be sleeping in the car.
Regardless of the likelihood of my bleary-eyed state, I am excited. Someone I chatted to the other day, who had attended, told me the location, the sunrise and the atmosphere are amazing.
It must be the same for pilgrims who go to Jerusalem during Easter week. They jostle shoulder to shoulder in the narrow streets of the Old City as they follow the Via Dolorosa, attend services in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and at the Garden Tomb.
I’ve been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was busy enough then, and it was nowhere near Easter time.
Long lines of people waited to get on their knees below an altar to kiss a silver disc marking the spot where Jesus’ cross stood. Others ran their hands over the Stone of Unction where Jesus’ body laid after his death. Yet more men and women lined up to enter the tomb of Jesus in a large ornately decorated structure under the high dome of the church.
I struggled to participate in the traditions. Clearly, many people found it meaningful.
In my heart I know the physical place where we worship Jesus is not important.
Jesus told us to worship in Spirit and in Truth.
After Jesus rose from the dead, he didn’t stay long in Jerusalem. He told the women, who came to anoint his body with spices, to tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. He told them to go back home.
There he cooked a simple meal of fresh fish over a fire on the beach. Can you imagine how precious a time that must have been for his followers? Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Jesus took a seven mile walk with friends, and their hearts were warmed.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman a time was coming when people would worship in Spirit and Truth.
We live in that time.
We worship in Spirit because Jesus made the pouring out of God’s Spirit possible. We worship in Truth because Jesus said: I am the Truth.
As worshippers we do not have to go to a specific place, instead Jesus meets us right where we are in our ordinary day-to-day lives.
Our devotion and praise need not be confined to Red Rocks or Jerusalem or any other place. With God’s Spirit dwelling within us, we can worship freely in every place, all the time.
We may have a wonderful experience this Easter, but it’s in our normal activities we find true meaning.